Beijing, 11 April, 2017 – A new report on the co-benefits of wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) power in China by Greenpeace East Asia and partner organisations finds that by 2030, China’s wind and solar power generation could replace fossil energy sources by up to 300 million tonnes of standard coal per year, almost as much as France’s entire primary energy consumption in 2015. The report demonstrates that China’s rapid transition to clean power is not only viable, but also socially and economically beneficial. The government must now accelerate the energy transition.

“The potential benefits of wind and solar energy in China are staggering”, said Greenpeace East Asia climate and energy campaigner Yuan Ying.

“Not only could China rid itself of fossil energy sources to the tune of 300 million tonnes of standard coal, it could also save enough water to meet the annual basic needs of 200 million people and add billions of dollars to the national economy.”

“The facts speak for themselves. China must now make sure nothing stands in the way of realising this potential.”

The report also found:

  • By 2030, wind and solar energy is projected to save 3.6 billion cubic meters of water per year, equivalent to the annual basic needs of 200 million people.
  • Between 2015 and 2030, China’s wind and solar industries are projected to expand fivefold. By 2030, they are estimated to be worth RMB 1.57 trillion and to comprise 1.1% of the national GDP.
  • Between 2013 and 2015, off-grid solar provided power to almost half of China’s population who lacked access to the grid.
  • In 2030 alone, the wind and solar industries will accrue RMB 456 billion in external environmental benefits as a result of their replacement of standard coal consumption.

The report, Accelerating the Energy Transition: the co-benefits of wind and solar PV power in China, is the result of a year-long collaboration between Greenpeace East Asia and five industry associations and research groups. The report uses scenario analysis and quantitative and qualitative analyses to calculate the potential co-benefits of wind and solar PV over the current and next two five-year plan periods, i.e. up to 2030.[1] The analyses are based on the assumption that the average annual increase rate of wind and solar PV power will be at least 10% and 20% respectively over the coming 15 years, in accordance with China’s INDC targets.[2]

“Only when we have a thorough understanding of the social and economic benefits wind and solar power can provide, can we really push forward with the energy transition and rid China of its reliance on fossil fuels”, writes former director of the National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, Li Junfeng.[3]

China is undergoing an enormous energy transition as the country moves away from coal, which comprised 62% of the energy mix by the end of 2016, and towards renewable and clean sources of energy.[4] Coal consumption has fallen three years in a row, and non-fossil fuels rose to 12% of primary energy consumption by end 2015, with a target of 20% by 2030.[5]

The findings of the report are evidence of the huge social, economic and environmental benefits that wind and solar PV can bring to China. The findings counter arguments that renewables will be costly and bring undue burden to the electricity grid, as well as fears that the energy transition will result in unavoidable social and economic losses due to coal mine and coal power plant closures.

A broad understanding of the co-benefits of wind and solar PV power is the first step towards realising the ambitious growth targets set by the government, and a step towards consolidating, implementing and realising the enormous potential of the energy transition. Based on the report’s key findings, Greenpeace urges that China’s moving away from polluting fossil fuels and developing cleaner, low carbon energy resources be accelerated.

Notes to Editor:

[1] See media briefing HERE for details on methodology for each section of the report.

[2] The assumptions for wind and solar growth are based on the rate of growth needed to achieve China’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions,

[3] ‘Accelerating the Energy Transition: the co-benefits of wind and solar PV power in China’, p.3,



Media contacts:

Tom Baxter, International Communications Officer
Greenpeace East Asia, Beijing | +86 18811344861 | [email protected]

Greenpeace International Press Desk, [email protected], phone: +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)